Social Sustainability and Work: Inequality, Precarisation and Practices for Social Justice (7.5 ECTS/credits)

November 2023– May 2024, Gothenburg, Helsinki & online

Recent debates on how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Agenda 2030 put increasing demands on corporations and organisations to organise work in a responsible manner, from a social sustainability perspective. Social sustainability largely concerns individuals and communities’ wellbeing, quality of life, human rights, justice, inclusion and empowerment, regardless of gender, sex, background or disability. While priority often has been given to economic and environmental sustainability, social sustainability has been largely neglected. However, in the context of work and employment this dimension of social sustainability is usually at the focus. That is, the organising of work provides an interesting case for studying the challenges and opportunities for implementing social sustainability in practice. Hence, if we are to understand and research social sustainability, the organising of work – both inside and outside of organisations and corporations – are crucial to focus. In this PhD course, we invite students to join us in the investigation of social sustainability with a focus on work.

The course design is participatory in the sense that the participants together with the course faculty members will choose the main part of the course literature, according to their specific research interests and topics. Proposed themes in the course include:

  • Precarious work – forms, development, and spread in different countries and industries
  • Inequality at work – studies of inequalities and intersectionality, how inequalities are constructed and reproduced at and through work
  • Work and care, inequalities related to these, and potential consequences of the inequalities
  • Resistance: individual resistance, social movements, collective voice and innovative practices.
  • Alternative responses and perspectives on how to organise decent work: from ‘renewed’ corporate responsibility practices (e.g. living wages), to the revival of the cooperative movement, the reconfiguration of traditional unions, or the articulation of alternative forms of workers’ associations
  • Age dependency ratio and uneven division of labour
  • Ontological perspectives on precariousness and social sustainability
  • Organizational control, HR technologies, and their power effects on work
  • Social sustainability in supply chains, watchdog investigations of labour conditions and human rights due diligence

Who can participate: All PhD students are welcome. You do not need to have “social sustainability and work” as your research topic, in your project title, or have extensive knowledge of scholarship on work and social sustainability. The course aims at situating and relating your PhD-project to such scholarship, regardless of your topic, project or level of knowledge. There is no cost for course-participation.

When and where: The course starts November 7-9, 2023 with an introductory workshop on-site in Gothenburg. This is followed by 4 online seminars and a final on-site workshop in Helsinki May 27-29, 2024.

How:  Deadline for application is September 4th, 2023. Final notification of acceptance is given September 10th, 2023. Costs for travel and accommodation will be paid by the doctoral students’ university. We are however looking into possibilities for scholarships and additional funding to reduce these costs.

Teachers: The course is planned in collaboration by a group of researchers at the University of Gothenburg and Hanken:

  • Martin Fougère, Professor, Hanken School of Economics
  • Nanna Gillberg, Assistant Professor, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg
  • Charlotta Niemistö, Docent, Hanken School of Economics
  • Maria Norbäck, Associate Professor School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg (formal course responsible)
  • Nikodemus Solitander, researcher, Hanken School of Economics
  • Maria Jose Zapata Campos, Associate Professor, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg


Priority: Students enrolled at NFF member institutions have first priority (see member-institutions here All other PhD students have second priority.